Final Assignment in Public Relations and Advertising Course Cigarette Advertising: Ethical Aspect December 2008 Thessaloniki, Greece Abstract The aim of the final assignment is to analyze the issue of cigarette advertising from the ethical point of view. The evidence examined basically tells about the unsuccessful restrictions of cigarette advertising. Relevant theories are applied, such as Consequentialism and Elaboration Likelihood model to make a more explicit research of the topic.
The analysis part combines theory, cases, author’s opinion and values and tries to provide an objective viewpoint from two perspectives: advertising and users/non-users of cigarettes, and advertising and producers/distributors and cigarettes. Table of Contents Introduction4 Chapter 1. Cigarette advertising5 Insights on current practices in the sphere of cigarette advertising are provided in the chapter. Past and present bans and requirements on cigarette advertising are provided, as well as examples of controversial advertising. Chapter 2. Interpretation8
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Interpretation of the evidences mentioned in the first chapter is provided in this part of the final assignment. Conflicts of interest are stressed and parties related to the issue in cigarette advertising are discussed. Chapter 3. Theories9 Business ethics theories applied in the assignment in order to give it academic weight and to structure the analysis on theoretical basis. Models applied in the final assignment are discussed in this chapter. Chapter 4. Analysis and Values11 Evidence mentioned in the first chapter is analyzed in this chapter applying business ethics theories provided in the Chapter 3.
As business ethics is quite arguable topic, author’s values are also provided in the chapter. The chapter is logically divided in two parts: analysis of interaction of advertising and demand side, and advertising and supply side. The effect of cigarette advertising on demand side of economy11 Analysis of the effect that cigarette advertising has on demand side, i. e. on both possible and existing consumers of cigarettes is provided in this part. Producers, distributors of cigarettes and advertising of cigarettes14 Analysis of interaction between supply side, i. e. roducers of the cigarette, is provided in this chapter. Chapter 5. Conclusions and Possible Solutions16 In the last chapter of the final assignment conclusions following from analysis are provided, as well as possible solutions suggested. Bibliography18 Introduction The world during the last hundred years has changed a lot, today human beings are living in a commercialized and economic driven community, and people without even knowing make a large number of decisions just because of effective marketing. So realizing the power of commercials, the marketers should take some of the responsibility on themselves.
A good marketing strategy provides better sales for the companies, so it leads to higher profits. Unfortunately, some of the goods produced are stated as not beneficial for humans in general like cigarettes. Then, the question arises – where should the line between money and moral values be drawn? In this project work a look at today’s advertising and marketing of cigarettes is taken. The author of the assignment considers how it influences the society and how the ethical side of it looks like; moreover, theories of the business ethics are used to clarify the results and meanings of the main conclusions.
The author tries to look at two different, controversial and psychological aspects of using or non-using these harmful goods – freedom and damage to health. The basic research question was: “Is advertising cigarettes harmful for society? ” The paper is structured as follows first part presents current position of cigarette advertising, while second part links the evidence to ethical issues by pointing out the importance of analysis of cigarette marketing from ethical aspect. Third part is review of the several business ethics theories applied in the analysis in part four.
Finally, the last section concludes the work and proposes possible solutions to relevant ethical issue. Chapter 1. Cigarette advertising There has always been controversy around the subject of tobacco, and in particular cigarette, advertising. It has been much debated over the years, but lately there has been a surge in media on the discussion on restriction and even prohibition of tobacco advertising. The American legislation has banned commercials for cigarettes on TV and the topic has been highly debated within the European Union for many years now.
Further, many American action groups, the Surgeon General together with the American Medical Association have stated their support for a complete ban of all advertising for these kinds of products. The support for the bans comes from multiple sources, one being the nature of the advertisements. They tend to be emphasizing the pleasures of smoking, or even in extreme cases the pleasures of life, without mentioning the health dangers that follow product usage to a larger extent than is at minimum required by law.
After Federal Trade Commission put several restrictions on cigarette advertising and imposed requirements to have a mandatory nicotine content statement and warning titles about the serious harm of cigarettes on health on each package, it did not actually lead to reduction of tobacco consumption at a significant level. Moreover, this resulted in bigger competition between cigarette brands, as producers wanted to convince consumers that their cigarettes are less harmful for human’s respiratory system because they have lower nicotine level, they are mentholated or they have a safer filter (www. bc. co. uk, accessed 5. 12. 2008) Calfee, economist writing on tobacco advertising, claims that tobacco advertising has taken this positivistic outlook in marketing as an attempt to keep health worries and smoking as far apart as possible. Producers use this approach in order to keep selling cigarettes to the public without creating too much worry about the possible effects. Regulation has, in one sense, decreased the information content of cigarette advertising as health issues are far from the focus (Bloom et al, 200: 421-25).
It should also be noted that there is much discussion on banning and restriction of tobacco promotion, but little is done in terms of decreasing and limiting the product usage. However, when visiting the website of Philip Morris, a major cigarette producer, and one striking thing is the fact that they claim that their objective is to attract adult smokers, and prevent youngsters from using cigarettes as “children should not smoke” (http://www. philipmorrisinternational. com, accessed 1. 12. 2008). Further, the company has adapted to the social pressures by making their marketing more transparent which is visible in their code of marketing.
The main provisions are labelling of health warnings independently of whether a governmental requirement exists, avoiding to place ads in the reach of youngsters and children and lastly putting ads on the front and back of publications so the general public sees them (http://www. philipmorrisinternational. com, accessed 1. 12. 2008). A specific example of controversial tobacco marketing is the sponsorships of sport teams and events. The sport clubs agree to these sponsorships as they might be concerned with financial survival, and media is focused on keeping advertising revenues constant.
Therefore, there has been little discussion in the field of appropriateness of tobacco companies sponsorships of sport teams (Crompton, 1993:160) This kind of sponsorships are exemplified by Marlboro endorsements of Marlboro since 2006, but it should also be noted that the company sponsored the McLaren team for many years. The European Union has taken serious measurements as a response to tobacco usage in the line of their health politics. Focus is on smoking prevention and control of tobacco products with the motivation that smoking is the primary source of death that could be avoided.
However, the results of attempts to decrease the consumption of tobacco and the number of smokers are not satisfactory (http://ec. europa. eu, accessed 3. 12. 2008). The Council also claims in its reports that tobacco advertising and marketing increases the consumption which in turn affects the smoking related mortality. They also accuse the producers of using strategies focused on youngsters and students to replace the people dying from smoking, a fact that is supported by research that proves that 60% of smokers start using cigarettes before the age of 13 and 90% before they turn 18 (http://ec. uropa. eu, accessed 3. 12. 2008). Therefore, the EU recommendations aim to make member states re-address the legislation in the area of tobacco advertising in order to prohibit activities that “constitute means of promoting tobacco products” in combination with already existing bans on direct tobacco advertising in certain medias (http://ec. europa. eu, accessed 3. 12. 2008). Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed recommendations for all nations to prohibit all kinds of tobacco promotion and advertising.
This is based on the assumption that if only certain kinds of marketing efforts are banned, the tobacco industry will shift their advertising expenditures to other promotion strategies. A decrease in the consumption of cigarettes would have beneficial long-term and short-term effects, the World Bank has concluded. As advertising increases the consumption, the World Bank follows the lines of WHO and proposes a ban on all advertising from a public health perspective (http://whqlibdoc. who. int, accessed 5. 12. 2008) Chapter 2. Interpretation
As seen in the cases presented, there is much controversy on the marketing efforts within the field of tobacco. There is a conflict of interest between two major forces trying to win people over to their side: government/legislation and the cigarette producers. Both sides have very different aims and methods of reaching them. Governments try to maintain and improve the public health by restricting and banning advertisements. The producers want to keep current customer as well as attract new ones to earn market share and thus profits. They need advertising to be able to do this.
The sponsorships within the athletic field can be thought of as somewhat contradictory. As the usage of this product has the potential to severely damage health which is not really in line with sports activities that promote a fit and sounds lifestyle. Also, promotion during sports events allows producers to reach a younger audience – something that has been restricted in other media. The discussion on ethics in the field of marketing of tobacco is rather ambiguous. However, underlying opposing factors constitute the roots to the ethics discussion; in this case being the freedom of action in the marketplace and the concern for health.
In between the two contradictory fields, national governments and organizations such as the European Union, WHO and the World Bank play critical roles in determining the rules of the game. On one hand, companies should be able to make the best business possible as well as profits in a competitive environment. On the other hand, people have a right to be healthy and not be subjected to health compromising advertising (lower tar, better filters for cigarettes) which have been proven to increase the consumption of tobacco.
This underlying conflict will be the main focus of this assignment as the author seeks to provide a suggestion for a solution. Chapter 3. Theories First of all, it is necessary to present theories and major definitions to be able to discuss the given topic and compare it with moral values of the group members. To start with, let’s give the definition of freedom. Freedom – “the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints” (http://www. thefreedictionary. com, accessed 5. 12. 2008).
Thus, if there are external conditions that do not allow you to act, you are not free. However, more narrow definition of freedom should be presented, because in modern society freedom itself can not be unlimited due to the presence of other actors. Here the ideas of the philosophical school of John Locke can be applied. He states, that freedom is one of the most important rights. Though, the term of the right of freedom brings additional issue – the rights result in the duties of other actors to respect, protect or facilitate these rights (Crane et. al, 1989:60-64).
But at the same time duties restrict the freedom of other actors, consequently the only possible outcome is some kind of balance of freedom and duties for each person. Another word that is used frequently in this work is “health”. Two definitions of this word will be given as they contribute to better understanding of the topic of this assignment. First one: health is the absence of illness, functionally, as the ability to cope with everyday activities (Health. indembsudan. com, accessed 30. 11. 2008). Consequently, if person is not able to act as she wants due to health problems, she can be considered ill.
Another wider definition is: health – a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (http://whqlibdoc. who. int, accessed 5. 12. 2008) In this assignment some business ethics theories are used. The most important is Egoism theory that represents Consequentialism branch of theories. It is used to show benefits and harms which a particular side gets (producers, distributors, consumers of cigarettes in the cases presented). But at the same time the utilitarian view on the problem will be presented i. e. ttempt to evaluate the utility for the whole society will be made. The behavior of cigarette users who do care about their health can be well depicted by Consequentialism theories as these people try to look at the consequences the cigarette marketing might bring at a later stage (more heart, lung diseases). [pic] In order to explain the effect of advertising on minds of people the social Elaboration Likelihood Model is used. The theory demonstrates how individuals perceive information. There are two routes how a message can be delivered to the mind of a person.
The first one is the central route and it is the strongest, thus the message has to be well grounded in facts and attributes of the subject itself. When the receiver is not motivated to think about the message, if he is unable to process it, or if the arguments are weak, the message is channeled through the peripheral route. In this case the message persuades the perceiver not directly related to the subject matter of the message. It attempts to call for positive and familiar thoughts through pleasant music and views, famous people and etc.
As it can be guessed the producers of cigarette advertisements use these principles and have big affect on minds of people, especially on the mind of youth (Charlie, 2006). Chapter 4. Analysis and Values Advertisements tend to convince people that the products described and shown are full of great advantages and are definitely irreplaceable in human’s life. The question arises – how much of this marketing information is really true and how much of it is just defrauding consumers? Let us first look at the general situation prevailing in the cigarette industry.
The cigarette ads are quite often artistic, inspiring (a brave cowboy on a wild horse in “Marlboro” poster, a woman dressed up completely in gold in “Chesterfield” ad) and try to give an impression that those who smoke are the ones to have the world at their feet. Nevertheless, the producers and distributors often tend to perceive the marketing of cigarettes differently than consumers (users, non-users). In the proceeding parts of the analysis, those different views will be described applying Consequentialistic way of thinking by evaluating harms and benefits to different parts engaged in conflict and overall society.
The effect of cigarette advertising on demand side of economy Looking back at the Theories’ part of this assignment, the term “health” was defined. It is a state that ensures social, physical and mental wellbeing. From the author’s (as confident anti-smoking supporter) view the advertising of cigarettes is not just means of selling a product; it is something which at a later stage promotes destruction of health causing various serious diseases, such as hypertension, vascular disease, tongue and lung cancer, impotence.
According to the Elaboration Likelihood model, cigarette advertisements often try to deliver a subliminal message to the watchers of it. There have been cases when movie stars take part in marketing posters; for instance, a few years ago American actor Charlie Sheen was participating in the ad campaign of “Parliament” ran in Japan. He held a cigarette in his arms, in such a way delivering a subconscious message to his fans – both adolescents and children. Therefore, an opinion exists that the tobacco brands can prosper a lot if they recruit future smokers among young people.
In 1999, The House of Commons Health Select Committee were able to access to the internal documents (contracts between client and agency, media and creative briefs, market research summaries) of five main advertising agencies of the UK tobacco industry. After a detailed research of these documents, some scaring conclusions were made, such as the facts that the industry designs marketing campaigns especially meant to affect juveniles’ minds, and strategies to attract new young smokers are searched for (http://www. bbc. co. k, accessed 5. 12. 2008). It is something completely unethical because in such a way the life of next generation is spoiled namely, a lot of nicotine addicts and people with crippled health are expected to emerge. A recent study has shown that nearly 40% of smokers can name a brand whose advertisements say that it is less harmful to inhalation system and human health in general than the other brands. 25% of the respondents really believed that these brands are safer for smokers (http://www. bbc. co. uk, accessed 5. 12. 2008).
Actually, all the claims about various types of cigarettes which contain smaller amount of deadly chemicals or are equipped with tools to restrain the hazard of an inhaled smoke can be proved to be lies. Here are some of the deceitful beliefs and misleading knowledge that cigarette marketers try to embed in people’s consciousness: • “Low-tar”, “mild” and “light” cigarettes are less destructive to health than the ordinary ones. This can be proved to be just a marketing trick. It is appropriate to mention that so called “lights” are designed with filters which have small tiny holes.
When the smoke comes through these holes, it is blended with additional air, in such a way fooling the smoking machine which measures the nicotine amount in a capacity unit of smoke. Therefore, the amount of nicotine in one unit is smaller, but it remains unchanged in the cigarette as a whole. Therefore, the smokers of lights compensate the amounts of harmful chemicals inhaled by taking bigger breath puffs. • “Menthol” cigarettes help to quench the strength of a tobacco smoke, hence the cigarettes with this component do not affect respiratory organs so much.
It is useful to know that although menthol is used in some medicals for the treatment of sore throat and cough, in tobacco industry it is used only to add flavour to a cigarette. Actually, “smokers of menthol cigarettes tend to inhale more deeply because menthol has an anesthetic and cooling effect,” admits Dr. Karen Ahijevych from The Ohio State University. And also lots of scientific information tend to claim that nicotine amounts in the menthol cigarettes are even higher than in no-menthol ones. • “Triple filters” are a worthy mean to reduce the noxiousness of smoking. They may only help if a person smokes very rarely.
For those who are already addicted to smoking, filter cannot help any way because their bodies have a need for a special dose of nicotine and they will smoke until they get it (the case with the filter will only differ in such a way that the process of smoking itself will be longer). So, these facts tend to think that there is lots of defrauding in cigarette business; therefore the author of this assignment perceives many elements of cigarette advertising to be unethical, as they lie to consumers. However, to be fully objective, some counterarguments need to be presented also.
There is an opinion that cigarette advertising is something that reminds people that they should have their “candy” in the form of a cigarette to inspire moods and lift spirits. But as people know, candies are harmful for teeth if consumed in big amounts, so cigarette advertisements should be perceived as something to remind people about small bonuses they should allow at some time but not often to avoid harm to health. To have a look at the both sides of a coin, the author tried to find information about situations when smoking can do well: • A cigarette is a way to warm up when there are no other means to do that. If a person smokes in a party, he/she is accepted in the very special “smokers’ union”, where always communication, socialization and sharing of the freshest rumour blossom. • A cigarette is a way to get rid of stress. But although all the arguments presented above tend to be true, it is not so simple to admit that cigarette advertising is just something to remind us about ways to refresh and enlighten mind after a tough day. The major problem here is that cigarettes create addiction – once you try, it becomes your habit, not just a particular reward people give themselves from time to time.
Therefore, cigarette advertising is considered to promote people act in a way that later can result in degradation of whole society (crowds of sick people, big expenses on medical treatment, children who start smoking early and perceive it as a norm). In this sub-chapter the effect of advertising on demand side of economy (consumers) was investigated and main objectives are summarized in the figure below. [pic] Producers, distributors of cigarettes (supply side) and advertising of cigarettes
There is a law in the major number of world countries that cigarette packages should include information about the harm of smoking; for example, the fact that smokers die young, smoking causes cancer, and smoking can lead to lethal consequences in case of pregnancy. However, it is pretty obvious that the titles on packages provide only the minimum information required by governments. More is presented about the advantages of smoking: it gives ability to relax after a tough day by enlightening the marvelous cigarette, it helps to concentrate your mind and fastens metabolism of human body (it works as a great diet).
As nowadays healthy lifestyle (drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice, attending sports clubs) has become very popular, the cigarette industry tends not to stay behind, and after the imposition of the rules that consumers should be provided with the information about the perilous effects of smoking, tobacco brands start to compete with each other on convincing people that their cigarettes are less unhealthy than the others.
Nevertheless cigarette advertising can also be justifiable in some way. Tobacco companies want to increase sales and profits by promoting their production in the market, and thus, creating economic sustainability in a long term. But the problem here is that they tend to have good and strong motives and principles to perform an action, but the possible consequences are often neglected.
Furthermore, an opinion prevailed that tobacco producers and distributors put great effort on cigarette advertising not only to increase the market share for a specific brand, but to expand the market itself by recruiting new smokers, and reassuring present smokers who might still be able to quit if they want with the help of proactive antismoking campaigns. Such a type of business behaviour is considered unfair and completely unacceptable to the author of this assignment, still it is considered as positive for suppliers of cigarettes, as they receive more profit.
The only negative thing that follows from cigarette advertising and which affects a supply side is increased competition. As supply rule claims, producers aim to sell more at higher price, but in case competition is increased there is a ground for war price to commence. Thus, there could be a downward pressure from the increased competition. However, everybody should have a freedom of choice in terms of smoking. But the ads of cigarettes should not be located in places where lots of children tend to gather or in media which children watch or read.
Simultaneously, cigarette marketing campaigns should not give the wrong impression about the effects of smoking on people by claiming that „lights”, „low-tar”, menthol or extra filtered cigarettes are less harmful to health than any other. In this sub-chapter the effect of cigarette advertising on supply side of economy was analyzed and the main findings are summarized in the figure below: Chapter 5. Conclusions and Possible Solutions All in all the author believes that cigarette advertising is rather ambiguous and cannot be concluded to be ethical or unethical due to a number of underlying reasons.
Compiling together effect on both demand and supply side (Figure 4) it is obvious that both positive negative effects are equalized. [pic] Moreover, as previously discussed, there are two main values at stake within this field of study; the freedom of action and health. From a business perspective, the author believes that tobacco producers have the right to market their goods as a part of their commerce and profiteering. Yet, conflict arises as the public is exposed to marketing efforts of harmful products.
First of all, the main aim of advertising is to attract new customers, but a big share of the target audience for marketing efforts is, sometimes unintentionally, young people. Thus, there is a risk to get a generation, if persuaded by tobacco advertising, which is more likely to face health issues in the future. This especially concerns the issue of smoking as it has been proven to causes addiction and also serious diseases in the long term. Thus, the positive short term effects of smoking will eventually disappear.
Second, advertising only tends to emphasize positive aspects of product usage, and downsize negative information. Producers are forced to adhere to certain informational standards due to industry and government regulation, but it can be claimed that these warning texts tend to lose their sense and be reduced by creating just a bigger competition between brands through claims that some particular cigarettes contain little tar and nicotine and it helps to get new friends or the product itself is very taste and stylish. Even though human health is mportant and deserve to be protected the issue of extreme government regulation feels a bit misplaced as people are not forced to consume cigarettes, but rather are given a choice where correct information is attached to the advertising. In conclusion, the author would like to present her view on how it is advisable to deal with cigarette advertising. I believe that there needs to be a more open discussion within the field of advertising of tobacco products in order both to educate people bearing the health aspects in mind, but also let the producers continue to do business.
This could be done in the form of a discussion forum where consumer action groups and producers meet, and carry out a dialogue on how to find a balance between advertising and health regulations. It should also be noted that some tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris International, have established a marketing code which adhere to the health concerns, and avoid using Medias that can in any way reach youngsters, which proves that companies are willing to cooperate on this issue. By creating an area for discussion, the underlying values in this case [freedom of action and health] can be protected and an ethical standard can be agreed upon.
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